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Different Kinds of Whole Grains for Your Healthy Diet

The major advantages to using whole grains in cooking are their superior nutritional value and their great taste. Once you’ve become accustomed to the rich flavor of whole grains, a steady diet of processed grains is unlikely to satisfy you.

If you’re like many people, you’re in the habit of eating only a few of the grains that are readily available. Bran flakes for breakfast, wheat bread for sandwiches, and the occasional white rice is not an unusual pattern for the variety challenged.

The following list describes some of the many types of whole grains that you can find at most supermarkets and natural foods stores and how they’re used.

  • Amaranth: An ancient grain eaten for centuries in Central and South America. Can be cooked and eaten as a side dish or hot cereal or used to make casseroles, baked goods, crackers, pancakes, and pasta. Use it as you would use rice in recipes. Amaranth flour is also available.

  • Corn: Corn kernels are actually the seeds of a cereal grass. Corn is used in cornbread, corn tortillas, and polenta.

  • Hulled barley: Barley comes in two forms: hulled and pearl. Hulled barley is the more natural, more nutritious, unrefined form, having only its outermost husks removed. It can be used in soups, casseroles, and stews.

  • Kamut: An ancient type of wheat that has been used in Europe for centuries in baked goods.

  • Millet: These tiny, beadlike seeds that come from a cereal grass are used in baked goods and as a cooked cereal.

  • Oats: Oats come from cereal grasses. They’re used as a hot cereal and in baked goods, veggie burger patties, and loaves.

  • Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”): An ancient grain eaten for centuries in Central and South America. Can be cooked and eaten as a side dish or hot cereal or used to make casseroles, salads, a side dish with cooked vegetables, and pilaf. Use it as you would use rice in recipes.

    Quinoa has to be processed in order to remove the seed coat, which contains saponin and is toxic. Before you cook quinoa, rinse it several times with water to remove any remaining saponin. The saponin is soapy; you’ll know that you’ve rinsed the quinoa well enough when you no longer see suds.

  • Rice: If you’re a diehard white rice eater, that’s fine. However, brown rice has a slightly better nutritional profile, and many people like its hearty flavor.

    Rice is one of the least allergenic and most easily digested foods. People who are allergic to wheat and other grains can use rice flour to make baked goods such as breads and cookies.

  • Rye: A form of cereal grass grown for its seeds, which are ground to make flour. It is used in baked goods.

  • Spelt: An ancient type of wheat that’s been used in baked goods in Europe for centuries..

  • Teff: One of the oldest cultivated grains in the world. It’s used in Ethiopia to make injera, a flat, spongy bread that is a staple food there. It’s also used in baked goods, soups, and stews.

  • Wheat: Wheat is grown around the world as a cereal grass. It’s used in baked goods and pasta.

  • Wheat berries: Whole wheat grains that have had only the outer hull removed. Used in baked goods and as a hot cereal.

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